the best friends you’ll never have

Browsing in collecting

This is old news by now, but the REISSUING of BSC books will begin soon. This is not surprising, as you’d hardly expect that they’d go through all the trouble of releasing a prequel when they couldn’t capitalize on either the new fans of the characters that the prequel will bring, nor bring the nostalgia bucks that the old fans whose collections were sold off in garage sales and donated to thrift stores by well-intentioned parents would be willing to spend, once the prequel jogs their memories. Rather than being completely blindsided by surprise (as I was by the news of the prequel itself), it was simply confirming what I knew would happen all along. Sure, they have the graphic novels, but as I learned when I tried to get my stepmother to buy them for my sister–some people just don’t want the comic format, and the four-book option already ended. It’s cheaper just to take the old books, reprint them with a new cover, and send them out into the marketplace.

I have my doubts, though, that the texts will remain untouched. Thinking of other reissues-Sweet Valley comes to mind, although I heard that Saddle Club was reissued as well–as well as updated versions of old classics like Judy Blume books, I am pretty sure that the BSC will not escape modernization. Perms, flop socks, even iconic pieces like Mary Anne’s “Famous Cities” skirt–it’s hard to fathom that they will be allowed into the homes of today’s children, despite the fact that the clothes right now are pretty damn eighties and nineties to begin with.

An interesting cultural shift that begun after I left childhood behind was the idea that kids are really, really stupid became in vogue. Yes, the whole sanitary belt thing in Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret confused me, but I understood that it was a story of the early 70s and things were different then, and I wouldn’t have wanted all of the slang and fashions updated. One of my favorite things about Harriet the Spy is the Mad Men-era Upper East Side locale, which is one of the main reasons why I absolutely hated the movie starring Nona F. Mecklenberg/Regina Sparks. But apparently nowadays even things like 1BRUCE1 are just too hard for the kids to understand, too unrelateable. You’d think it’d be the opposite, because now kids can just google that shit. Perhaps this lack of faith and push the modernize things is what made the SVH reissues not very successful: perhaps if they had just retained the corny, tacky, vintage feel that we all know and love, they’d have been more successful. Because I am sure that now it just reads like a less-scandalous Gossip Girl. Would today’s kids live in fear of trying cocaine after what happened to Poor Regina Morrow? Maybe, maybe not, but if it were framed in LOLEIGHTIES! it might seem less lame.

I think that now the entire concept of the BSC is outdated. Even in 1986, it was hard for the girls to compete with the Baby-Sitters Agency, which had older sitters. I can’t see any contemporary parents I know leaving their children in the care of an eleven-year-old, even a levelheaded one like Mallory. Claudia’s voracious appetite for junk food that never results in weight gain would definitely be frowned upon. And obviously, with cell phones, Claudia might even be stripped of her title as vice-president! The books are so firmly steeped in a pre-cell phone, pre-internet, pre-THINK ABOUT THE CHILDREN!!!!!!! culture that it is hard to see how, exactly, they’d be able to modernize it without basically having to redo the entire concept. I mean, this stuff DOES enter the series, but only at the tail end, and I doubt that they will even get to the ghost-written books in terms of reissuing the series.

So perhaps, if we’re lucky, they will just leave them alone and reissue them as they are, as a relic of the 80s and 90s.

It has been a time of great upheaval, for me, for the fandom.

First, there was some drama on livejournal wherein the BSC ebooks livejournal was deleted. For those of us who can’t really keep our books where we live or who gave away our childhood collections, this was a sad day indeed. And then there was some brouhaha because livejournal laid off a bunch of people in its US office, but I don’t really think that’s worth getting as worked up about as people are, because I think it has more to do with livejournal’s relative popularity in Russia versus the United States, and that our livejournals will be safe for the foreseeable future. And that includes all the awesome BSC livejournals/communities out there, all of which are linked in the left sidebar.

Second, there were fears about the new CPSIA law, and how it might affect the secondary children’s book market in the United States. From the way the law was written, it seemed as if people would not be able to resell any books published before February 10th, 2009, which would obviously include Ann’s entire BSC oeuvre. Our worst fears were unfounded, however, since the government has issued a statement saying that the secondary market is exempt. This is still bad news for books currently on the shelves, and will raise prices for everything kid-related, THANKS CONGRESS, but at least you can still complete your collection if need be.

Lastly, I have decided that I am going to expand this blog slightly from being just BSC-related, to cover other literary/pop culture topics of interest to me. Fear not, the focus will still be BSC and BSC will be the heart, but I have lost steam and inspiration on just BSC-related topics and I do not like seeing this blog dormant for weeks and months on end. Stoneybrookite will not lose its BSC-flavor, but simply adding that Stoneybrook crunchy goodness to more things in life.

Yesterday I was in an English-language bookstore, and in the kids’ chapter books/YA section (which is all of 2 floor-to-ceiling bookshelves), they had six brand new BSC books for sale. I was tempted to buy one, but I couldn’t really justify paying 10 dollars for a book I owned back in America.

It’s been a fairly long time since the BSC sections in the bookstores I frequent in the US disappeared. Have any of you spotted non-secondhand BSC books lately? Is Scholastic simply selling off dead stock–or are they still printing and selling them but only in international markets?


A while back, I wrote about my feelings on BSC collectibles and how I wasn’t so into them. I mentioned, however, that I would really like an original cover painting by Hodges Soileau. You see them occasionally on gallery websites, and they run about 500 USD. This is a pretty big financial commitment, so I went for the next best thing (which definitely does not pale in comparison): an original graphic novel page by Raina Telgemeier.

You can buy one directly from Raina. The info is here. As you can see in the photo above, mine also came with cool extras. The only question is how to display it! I would like it framed, but I am so scared to take it out of its pretty plastic cover!

How do you feel about BSC collectibles? I have some cool stuff, like a Karen cloth doll (definitely the rarest BSC item I have) and the party-doll set left over from when I was a kid, and all of stuff I received from the Collector’s Club when that was around. Around sophomore year of high school, I got super into ordering BSC collectibles off of ebay. I once even bid on a lot of 20 identical address books. I’m not sure what I was planning to do with them–I don’t even need one address book. If I ever had a stoneybrookite contest of some sort, I guess I could use them as prizes. Anyway, one day I just stopped. There are some people with amazing collections of BSC stuff, like Ashley, who recently posted a picture of a BSC FANNY PACK she got off ebay. Awesome. But for some reason, having BSC merchandise, while it’s cool, doesn’t feel important to me. The stuff I won off ebay five years ago isn’t even on display–it just sits in my old room. My books are flung all around my mom’s house. I like the idea of having my collection perfectly lined up on a shelf, perhaps with other collectibles around them… but I know it’s not realistic. Sigh. When you have to fit your entire life into two suitcases (thanks airline regulations!), the 300 BSC books just don’t make the cut.

For me I think the feelings the books give me that trump having a collection. The “stuff” is nice, but it doesn’t invoke an emotional response for me. I’m even satisfied with just having ebooks instead of regular books. Maybe if there were like, BSC record books and notebooks that matched the ones from the series. That would be cool. That kind of collectible always really appealed to me. Like if you could have a collie cap like Kristy’s or some of Claudia’s crazy earrings or a snorkaphone. And OMG, a Krushers shirt! That’s the kind of stuff I want–not things that are more on the promotional side.

Text, however, supercedes all.

There is something incredibly satisfying about having every BSC book, their pastel, basically uniformly-thick spines all lined up on a bookshelf. Followed, of course, by the normally white, thicker spines of the Super Specials, the dark-hued spines of the Mystery Series, the Super Mysteries, the Portrait Collection… you get the picture. I have seen many pictures of the collections of my friends within the fandom, all of whom took pictures of their perfectly organized collection, which may also include dolls in original boxes, board games, and other peripheral BSC memorabilia. While I think it would be lovely to have every BSC book at my fingertips, somehow it has never worked like that for me.

I’m a more… organic collector. All right, I’m just plain disorganized. I also haven’t had my collection at the place where I actually live for about six years now. I suppose that’s a bit strange, since I write a blog focused on the Baby-sitters Club. You’d think that I sat around all day, gazing at my collection and rereading. While I do reread when I get a chance, my collection, in its super-secret location, isn’t even all together. When I was younger, the way I kept my books “lasting” longer was that after I finished reading a BSC book, I would hide it somewhere in my house and forget about it, so I could rediscover later and it would feel like almost an all-new book, as I hadn’t read it in a few years.

I am curious about how you guys keep your collection. Is it perfectly organized and complete? Is it strewn around your house? Do you have digitsl versions of a lot of the books and then your actual collection at your parents’ house/storage facility? Are you still working hard on rebuilding/completing your collection and every book you have feels like a huge accomplishment?

I just went to Borders and picked up some stuff that came out while I was away: 2 of the graphic novels and the first main street. Obviously sometime soon I will write about what I think.

Also while I was in Borders I saw a copy of Dawn and the Impossible Three for sale. Is it an old copy… or is scholastic experimentally rereleasing the books? We can dream, can’t we?